2e, the most lethal edition?

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
3e is kinda tricky, because by RAW, you can have a character that mops the floor with enemies with several builds. Hardly deadly to the PCs. Then factor in you got rid of save or die, level drains, instant death at X amount of points in a single attack, and then you’re hard pressed to convince that 3e is more lethal than previous editions. In TSR D&D, a dragons breath weapon would kill most of the classes even if they made saving throws straight up
You could build some fairly insane characters in 2e as well, depending on the material you were including. (AFAIK, most of the uber builds in 3.x weren't straight from the PHB, and if you're going to include official supplements from one edition, you ought to include the them for the other.)

Just off the top of my head, 2e had:
-Kits (many of which had huge benefits for negligible drawbacks)
-The Complete X Handbooks (particularly Complete Humanoids, as you could play as potent monsters such as Firbolgs and Pixies)
-Skills and Powers (which allowed you to point buy your class, as well as treating most ability scores as being functionally 2 points higher than what you actually rolled)

Also, as has been mentioned, Save of Die was quite prevalent in 3e. There were lots of spells and abilities that could kill you outright, and because of the way saves scaled, a high level character might very well have a terrible chance of success (unlike 2e, where saves were a TN based on character level, meaning a high level character generally had a pretty decent chance to save vs death).

3e didn't have level drain per se, but it did have energy drain which was functionally equivalent, but in some instances easier to recover from.

I could be mistaken, but didn't 3e have a death from Massive Damage rule? Or was that optional? I admittedly don't recall anymore.

While I believe 2e also had it, 3e formalized and made standard ability score drain, which could kill or seriously incapacitate even high level characters in short order.

Dragons in 3e were intentionally designed with misleadingly low CRs so that they would be seen as tough monsters, on the assumption that PCs rarely take on a dragon blindly. 2e didn't have encounter guidelines, but if you were pitting a party against a dragon that would auto kill them, then either you didn't intend a fight or you were a sadist. 3e dragons were designed to be killers within the encounter building system, particularly for a party that wasn't given a chance to prepare.

3e did have certain stereotypical tactics that could be hard for a DM to counter, such as Scry, Teleport, Kill, but I would argue that those tactics were in no small part due to the game being very swingy and deadly at high levels. In 2e, it was unlikely that your character would be taken out by poison or death, because your saving throws were solid by that point. In 3e, it was a game of rock-paper-scissors. If the death effect targeted your good save you'd probably be fine, but if it was your poor save you'd likely want to brace for imminent character death. Hence, in 3e, it was wise to not take unnecessary risks. I believe that Scry-Teleport-Kill is still technically viable in 5e, but you never really hear people complain about it anymore (AFAIK) because high level characters in 5e are hard to kill, so they don't need to resort to such tactics in order to survive.
 
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Hussar

Legend
Heh, my snark aside, it really is an attempt to compare apples and oranges. Because, sure, you had a lot of save or die type monsters in 2e and, again depending on the character stats, parties could really vary. The trick about comparing across edition is that 3e changed every single aspect of the math of the game. Sure, you could have this or that build - but, now we're getting away from low level characters, which means in 2e, the characters become very, very durable.

And, yup, dragons and giants got a serious bump in 2e. OTOH, virtually nothing else did. Humanoids were virtually unchanged from 1e to 2e. Remember that in 1e, your party of 6-9 PC's could legitimately face 20 kobolds and expect to win. 3e was far too swingy for that. Heck, let's not forget that a 3e orc can one shot a 3rd level character on a crit with a great axe. 45 points of damage potentially. From a single orc.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Even if you believe 2E was the most lethal edition, how many people remember more of their characters dying in 1E?

I know I had more character deaths in 1E than 2E, by a long shot. Since I played with mostly the same people over all those years between both editions I will rule that factor out.

And while things like having a default 3d6 for ability scores in 2E, I can't recall many players ever really using it unless they wanted the randomness and challenge. True, dragons could be much more deadly, but in 1E lower level characters could handle dragons with some chance of success, in 2E all it did was make it so characters had to be higher levels to handle them. The degree of danger remained the same IMO, just when you challenged them was different.

Those were my experiences, anyway.
 

Raith5

Adventurer
Agree with the OP. I found 2e to be really deadly, especially at low and mid levels. I think part of it was the maths but I remember quite few save or die deaths.

I also found 4e to be quite deadly, despite the manifold forms of healing. I think a mid to high level the various Auras and area of effect attacks were quite tricky - or at least harder than I have found in 5e.

So for me. > 2e >1e > 4e > 3e > 5e
 

jaelis

Explorer
Agree with the OP. I found 2e to be really deadly, especially at low and mid levels. I think part of it was the maths but I remember quite few save or die deaths.

I also found 4e to be quite deadly, despite the manifold forms of healing. I think a mid to high level the various Auras and area of effect attacks were quite tricky - or at least harder than I have found in 5e.

So for me. > 2e >1e > 4e > 3e > 5e
Stripped the color tags for you, so folks with a white background can read it :)
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Is surprised me too when I double checked. But yes, Method I in 1e was 4d6 drop lowest. In 2e, Method I went back to 3d6 in order.
No. That's incorrect. The PHB directs you to the DMG which says this...

"While it is possible to generate some fairly playable characters by rolling 3d6, there is often an extended period of attempts at finding a suitable one due to quirks of the dice. Furthermore, these rather marginal characters tend to have short life expectancy - which tends to discourage new players, as does having to make do with some character of a race and/or class which he or she really can't or won't identify with. Character generation, then, is a serious matter, and it is recommended that the following systems be used. Four alternatives are offered for player characters:"

So we see that 3d6 is the default and the four alternatives that immediately follow include alternative method I, which is 4d6 drop the lowest.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Now, as to which edition was deadliest. I had many more characters die in 1e than in 2e, and many more die in 2e than any following edition. I'm not sure if there were other rules which allowed 2e to be more survivable than 1e, but that was my experience.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
1E adventures were harder.

2E adventures were narrative heavy. Not many were actually good and most of them are in Dungeon.
 

Jer

Adventurer
No. That's incorrect. The PHB directs you to the DMG which says this...

"While it is possible to generate some fairly playable characters by rolling 3d6[/B], there is often an extended period of attempts at finding a suitable one due to quirks of the dice. Furthermore, these rather marginal characters tend to have short life expectancy - which tends to discourage new players, as does having to make do with some character of a race and/or class which he or she really can't or won't identify with. Character generation, then, is a serious matter, and it is recommended that the following systems be used. Four alternatives are offered for player characters:"

So we see that 3d6 is the default and the four alternatives that immediately follow include alternative method I, which is 4d6 drop the lowest.
Excuse me, but no it doesn't. The important part is the part that I bolded. He's specifically saying right there that rolling 3d6 is awful and he recommends that you don't do it. None of the methods that are actually recommended for the game are 3d6 in order. What you bolded is his argument about why doing it that way is terrible, not a recommendation that it's the default system and then laying out various alternatives.

3d6 in order worked fine for OD&D and Basic D&D, but not for AD&D and Gygax knew it.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
No. That's incorrect. The PHB directs you to the DMG which says this...

"While it is possible to generate some fairly playable characters by rolling 3d6, there is often an extended period of attempts at finding a suitable one due to quirks of the dice. Furthermore, these rather marginal characters tend to have short life expectancy - which tends to discourage new players, as does having to make do with some character of a race and/or class which he or she really can't or won't identify with. Character generation, then, is a serious matter, and it is recommended that the following systems be used. Four alternatives are offered for player characters:"

So we see that 3d6 is the default and the four alternatives that immediately follow include alternative method I, which is 4d6 drop the lowest.
I said method I in 1e was 4d6 drop lowest. I am in fact correct. Since you quoted the DMG, I’m sure you saw the very next sentence was how it labels method I as 4d6. Not method II or V, but the very first method. You also ignore the meat of that paragraph where it says not to use 3d6 if you want decent PCs or are serious about the game
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Weapon specialization and increased weapon dice.

1d12+2 and 1d8+2. Max damage 24

Round two.
Extra attack with longsword. 1d12+2 max damage 38 a round.

Two rounds 52 damage.

Dart specialists could also put out around 4 or 5:attacks.

The dual wielding fighter with the fighter handbook could offset all of the dual wield penalty.

2E you tended to level up a lot slower relative to 1E and B/X. No xp for gp. You notice it a lot running 1E or B/X adventures for 2E.
I don’t recall improved weapon dice as core. But I admit, I played mostly 1e with only a few 2e elements (like thief skill progression). But I will also remind how you got massive penalties for dual wielding. So theoretically a hyper specialized drizzt clone at level 1 could do a lot of damage, with a 20 THACO that got a -2/-4 penalty to hit, you weren’t hitting to do that damage.

Also, I’ll note there are more classes than fighters, which folks seem to be forgetting. Only fighters in 2e could specialize. EVERYONE could take weapon focus in 3e (and other feats), and casters/rogues were exponentially more powerful/survivable in 3e. And not just because of increased HP dice.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Even if you believe 2E was the most lethal edition, how many people remember more of their characters dying in 1E?

I know I had more character deaths in 1E than 2E, by a long shot. Since I played with mostly the same people over all those years between both editions I will rule that factor out.

And while things like having a default 3d6 for ability scores in 2E, I can't recall many players ever really using it unless they wanted the randomness and challenge. True, dragons could be much more deadly, but in 1E lower level characters could handle dragons with some chance of success, in 2E all it did was make it so characters had to be higher levels to handle them. The degree of danger remained the same IMO, just when you challenged them was different.

Those were my experiences, anyway.
I suspect your experiences are the norm. That’s why when I looked at the rules, I was surprised. 2e was written a lot more brutal than 1e, but we still played with a lot of 1e rules, like assuming 4d6 as normal, and ignored the massive auto death save. Occasionally some hardcore DM wanted 3d6 in order, but that was rare rather than the norm. I guess it’s like anything else. Once you’re given something better (4d6) it’s really hard to go back for most people.

IME, it seemed 1e was deadlier. Looking back, it seems to be because:

We ignored the tougher 2e rules
We stuck with 1e rules with just a few 2e elements so we weren’t really playing 1e
The 2e DMs shifted more into campaign stories rather than dungeon crawls, so there were less combats and traps than in 1e

But the above were all subjective preferences, not RAW. I have to not consider subjectiveness when doing a fair analysis.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Agree with the OP. I found 2e to be really deadly, especially at low and mid levels. I think part of it was the maths but I remember quite few save or die deaths.

I also found 4e to be quite deadly, despite the manifold forms of healing. I think a mid to high level the various Auras and area of effect attacks were quite tricky - or at least harder than I have found in 5e.

So for me. > 2e >1e > 4e > 3e > 5e
I have heard DMs say in 4th they can go full out.... also a level +4 encounter is an acceptable encounter in 4e. Th DM has so much control over how dangerous things are by RAW the comparisons fail
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
But the above were all subjective preferences, not RAW. I have to not consider subjectiveness when doing a fair analysis.
True enough. In retrospect, we never played 2E RAW but as you suggest, a blend of 1E/2E really.

Still, adding elements of 2E as you discuss, such as more powerful dragons and rules for massive damage, never increased lethality, only changed how the game was played. Even playing characters with 3d6 in order (I recall a 2E Priest I had named Benson Miller, all stats 9-12 with a 12 Wisdom) only changed how the game was played. But this is true in many cases, such as if you have fewer hit points you play more cautiously.

If you played in the exact same style without regard for the changes in rules from 1E to 2E, you probably had some surprises waiting for you! Once you compensated for those changes, the game in actual play resulted in less character deaths IME.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Also, so spot checking for 3e:

Save or Die: There were SoD effects in 3e, like the medusa's gaze. However, fort saves were easier to make in 3e compared to AD&D at the typical levels PCs faced them. In 3e, you added your Con modifier to your fort save, and level progression bonuses outstripped the roll needed in AD&D. For example, with said medusa, if a level 4 fighter in AD&D and a 3e version both face a medusa (likely level), the 3e fighter with typical Con needs to make a DC 15 save. But she gets a +7 bonus between Con and level, she only needs to roll an 8 or higher. An AD&D fighter with the same con needs to roll a 14. That's a big difference.

In regards to poisons, in 3e you got ability damage. Even with a very potent poison, pretty much every PC would survive at least one failed save (again, as mentioned, saves were easier). in AD&D, even an average poison (let alone a potent one) could kill you outright.

In 3e, you could also choose feats to improve your saving throws. Didn't have that in AD&D. You also didn't have ability score improvements in AD&D (which also impacted saves). I.e., a 11th level PC in 3e will have higher stats than a clone PC in AD&D that started at level 1 with the same stats, which translates into additional bonuses to saves that the AD&D PC doesn't get

Level Drain: In AD&D, if you lost a level, you lost everything associated with it: all spell slots and spell capability from the levels lost, all hp, all attack bonuses, everything. It's a straight level loss. In 3e, you don't lose nearly as much, and you regain those levels after 24 hours

Monsters: 3e doesn't have creatures like rot grubs. Mind flayers have to have all tentacles hit before killing you in 3e, and only needs 1 successful attack (then 1d4 rounds) in AD&D, and the 3e version has to succeed on a grapple check as well, which didn't exist in AD&D. Green slimes kills you in 1d4 rounds flat in AD&D, in 3e they only do 1d6 con damage per round. Molds are more deadly in AD&D. Etc.

And I'm not even comparing how 3e PCs are exceptionally more powerful than AD&D (especially casters and rogues) or how you didn't die at 0 hp. This is just hazard comparisons. I'm not saying 3e isn't deadly or lethal, but looking at like for like comparisons, it's not as deadly as AD&D, but more deadly than 4e or 5e. Lethality is much more than just HP soaking and damage.
 
Save or Die: There were SoD effects in 3e
Thank you. It'd be awesome if you'd stop saying there weren't, going forward.

If what you mean is "at low level, 1e fighters had crap saving throws, and at the highest levels had the best saving throws in the game and could expect enough bonuses from randomly generated magic items to fail only on a natural 1, even before name level, PCs casually drinking poison for the flavor because it was essentially harmless was a running gag," just say that.

However, fort saves were easier to make in 3e compared to AD&D at the typical levels PCs faced them. In 3e, you added your Con modifier to your fort save, and level progression bonuses outstripped the roll needed in AD&D.
Yes, you added your CON bonus, no the progression did not outstrip the 1e save matrix, because DCs rose continually through your career, while save penalties even at high level, were very rare in 1e. A 3e 'good' save was lucky to tread water, if the DCs you faced were being optimized even that would fall behind. Bad saves - the other two besides Fort if you were a Fighter - fell behind /rapidly/.

In regards to poisons, in 3e you got ability damage.
Ability damage was pretty awful, actually, it's not like your abilities went up the way hps did, so it was damage that bypassed your most significant margin for survival, and, it ability was important to what your character did, it was also a death-spiral effect - and if it wasn't, if it was a neglected or dump stat, then you didn't have very far to go before you were killed or rendered helpless by it.
In 3e, you could also choose feats to improve your saving throws. Didn't have that in AD&D.
Correct, unlike 3e, you didn't have to give up other abilities to desperately try to keep up one of your three saves against constantly-rising save DCs, in AD&D they all got better across the board just by leveling.

Level Drain: In 3e, you don't lose nearly as much, and you regain those levels after 24 hours
You might recover from a negative level. Or it might become a permanent level loss. And, critters bestowing negative levels in 3e were a /lot/ more likely to actually get to do so: they were harder to turn, much tougher, and hit much more easily - often with incorporeal touch attacks.

And I'm not even comparing how 3e PCs are exceptionally more powerful than AD&D (especially casters and rogues) or how you didn't die at 0 hp.
You died at -10 in 3e, just like the commonplace Death's Door variant in the 1e DMG. And, as much as 3e PC got bigger numbers, monsters, which had stats, including extremely high STR scores for larger monsters, and feats, /and full benefits from them/ more than matched them. Monsters in 1e were made of glass by comparison.

I'm not saying 3e isn't deadly or lethal, but looking at like for like comparisons, it's not as deadly as AD&D, but more deadly than 4e or 5e. Lethality is much more than just HP soaking and damage.
Though hps and soaking damage won't get you far in 3e. A same CR monster like a Giant could demolish a reasonably tough fighter in a round, maybe two - if the fighter was optimized, it was prettymuch even money which do the huge pile of hps to the other first - and if there was an optimized SoD going off, whether from a Tier 1 PC or a Lich or something, then it was straight-up rocket tag.

3e was not so much deadly as broken, but it was still quite, quite deadly, when it broke the right (wrong) way. It was up to DMs and players to either show restraint, or optimize to a comparable degree, to make it work.


I also think it might help to distinguish overall lethality from lethality at a given level. At 1st level, lethality decreased pretty smoothly from the original game, through the TSR era, to 3e & 4e, reversing only some with 5e. But, if you look at more of the game, you find that in earlier TSR eds, the game got a lot less deadly as you got some hps under your belt, some magic items, your cleric got more protective/restorative spell options, and as your saves slowly got better, while monsters never got a whole lot harder to hit or harder to kill (though they sure got weirder and weirder special abilities and gotchyas - and the stereotypical Killer DM never lacked for ways to end your desperately-paranoid favorite high-level character), while, in 2e, monsters got quite the upgrade, becoming a much more serious threat at all levels, because they could stand up to you long enough to do their thing. That /also/ started a trend that continued, this time, straight through 5e. So, while WotC era D&Ds became less deadly at low level, in general, they were also more challenging at high level, without resorting to gotchyas and DM fiat.

FWIW. (which, if you're going for old-school feel, is exactly nothing) ;)
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Yes, you added your CON bonus, no the progression did not outstrip the 1e save matrix, because DCs rose continually through your career, while save penalties even at high level, were very rare in 1e. A 3e 'good' save was lucky to tread water, if the DCs you faced were being optimized even that would fall behind. Bad saves - the other two besides Fort if you were a Fighter - fell behind /rapidly/.
At 4th level, the fighter saved on an 8 in 3e. On a 14 in AD&D. A 10th level fighter in AD&D needed a 9 to pass. It looks like typical DCs for monsters in the MM have DCs around 21 for CR10 creatures. A 10th level fighter, not counting choosing feats to improve save chances, would have around a +11 bonus. So AD&D was much harder at most levels players actually play PCs with, with 3e finally overtaking the difficulty only at high levels. Levels that hardly were ever really played.
Ability damage was pretty awful, actually, it's not like your abilities went up the way hps did, so it was damage that bypassed your most significant margin for survival, and, it ability was important to what your character did, it was also a death-spiral effect - and if it wasn't, if it was a neglected or dump stat, then you didn't have very far to go before you were killed or rendered helpless by it.
All of this is still better than "instantly die". If you're going to argue how 3e is more lethal than AD&D, then arguing how poison is not as bad in 3e isn't a good way to do so.

You might recover from a negative level. Or it might become a permanent level loss. And, critters bestowing negative levels in 3e were a /lot/ more likely to actually get to do so: they were harder to turn, much tougher, and hit much more easily - often with incorporeal touch attacks.
You did recover in most cases after 24 hours on your own, doing nothing else. And you recovered much earlier via easily accessible spells. In AD&D, you lost levels immediately and permanently. Only a wish would recover them. And it wasn't "lose some hp, get a -1 penalty to attack, and lose one spell" like in 3e. It was lose the whole level, and everything that came with it.

You died at -10 in 3e, just like the commonplace Death's Door variant in the 1e DMG.
2e didn't have that rule, so if you're arguing how 3e is more lethal than 2e, using a 1e rule isn't helping you. Even if you did, as lowkey pointed out, that was only if you went to exactly 0 hp on an attack. If you had 4 hp and took 9 hp of damage, you died. no -10 bleeding rule.

Though hps and soaking damage won't get you far in 3e. A same CR monster like a Giant could demolish a reasonably tough fighter in a round, maybe two - if the fighter was optimized, it was prettymuch even money which do the huge pile of hps to the other first - and if there was an optimized SoD going off, whether from a Tier 1 PC or a Lich or something, then it was straight-up rocket tag.
CR in 3e was rated against the party it was going against. I.e., a CR 7 monster like a hill giant would be against a party of 7th level PCs. Not a level 7 fighter. To be comparable to AD&D, you have to look at the hit dice. So a hill giant would face off against a 12th level fighter in 3e. I find it dubious that a hill giant in 3e would demolish a 12th level fighter in one round or two. I don't see how that's possible looking at the giant's stat block, when its greatclub attack does 2d8+10 damage, once per round.


You're basically arguing "here's all things that were tough in 3e" that are all things that were tougher in AD&D (2e specifically). Not exactly the best argument to convince me why 3e was a more lethal system than 2e.
 
At 4th level, the fighter saved on an 8 in 3e. On a 14 in AD&D. A 10th level fighter in AD&D needed a 9 to pass. It looks like typical DCs for monsters in the MM have DCs around 21 for CR10 creatures. A 10th level fighter, not counting choosing feats to improve save chances, would have around a +11 bonus.
That proves what I said. The AD&D fighter's save improved from needing a natural 14, to needing a natural 9 - and that's vs anything trying to petrify or polymorph him, from a cockatrice to a medusa to a 19th level Lich. He got /much/ better. Your 18 CON 3e fighter goes from needing an 8 at 4th level vs a 4th level DC, to needing a natural 10, vs a 10th level DC. He got /worse/. And, that's his *GOOD* save, at 10th, he might well face a similar DC 21 save against which his bonus could be as low as +2 - maybe +4 or 6 with feat, decent stat, and/or protection item, that's not just worse than he had it at 4th level, that's worse than the 1e fighter had it at 4th level!

You claimed that there were no SoDs in 3e, and that 3e /save progression/ outstripped the AD&D save matrix. 3e /did/ have SoDs, and it has rising save DCs with level, net of which, even good saves fell behind the AD&D save matrix progression.

So AD&D was much harder at most levels players actually play PCs with, with 3e finally overtaking the difficulty only at high levels. Levels that hardly were ever really played.
You brought up the save matrix and claimed that 3e save bonuses outstripped it. That brings in genuinely high levels - the matrix for the fighter topped out at 17+.


All of this is still better than "instantly die". If you're going to argue how 3e is more lethal than AD&D, then arguing how poison is not as bad in 3e isn't a good way to do so.



You did recover in most cases after 24 hours on your own, doing nothing else. And you recovered much earlier via easily accessible spells. In AD&D, you lost levels immediately and permanently. Only a wish would recover them.
Even in 1e, restoration, I think it was, could get you a level back, and you could buy those (there was a table with a price for it, it was steep).
And, remember how bad those saves, above, were? Negative levels required a save to recover from, the DC was set by the creature that bestowed the negative level, and the negative levels /gave you a save penalty/. To that save bonus that was already falling steadily behind the DCs at your level.
And, you wouldn't just get un-lucky and accumulate 1 or 2 now or then, you could have a specter reaching right through your tank-like magical armor as if it wasn't there, layering them on you every round.


2e didn't have that rule
Don't believe it didn't even exist as an option and/or wasn't /commonly/ used, and also don't care, because: 1) I'm sticking to 1e when I talk AD&D, thankyouverymuch. 2)I've happily acknowledged 2e's relative lethality, above. ,

CR in 3e was rated against the party it was going against. I.e., a CR 7 monster like a hill giant would be against a party of 7th level PCs. Not a level 7 fighter.
It's not like the fighter got to hide in the back while the wizard melee'd the giant. The CR = level Giant was gonna attack someone, and that someone was in trouble.

To be comparable to AD&D, you have to look at the hit dice.
There was no CR in AD&D, so there is no comparing monsters across eds based on CR or HD. The only valid comparison is the same monster. An Orc's an Orc, a Specter's a Specter, a Giant's a Giant - and they're all nastier in 3e than 2e because they have freak'n feats & stat bonuses, and they're all nastier in 2e than they were in 1e. It's just 2e character are hardly buffed from 1e characters to match, while 3e characters /are/ buffed with all the same crazy as the monsters (vice versa really, the 3e PCs got crazy build options, which the monsters also got, but the point stands).
 
I also found 4e to be quite deadly, despite the manifold forms of healing. I think a mid to high level the various Auras and area of effect attacks were quite tricky - or at least harder than I have found in 5e.
Any chance your formative play experience with 4e included Keep on the Shadowfell, Thunderspire Labyrinth, and/or Pyramid of Shadows?

(Because, while the middle one was actually mostly pretty good, each included at least one example of completely whacked encounter design.)

...or, y'know, alternately, maybe your DM just liked killing you... ;)


Vs encounters run closely to guidelines, 4e characters were often dropped, sometimes very greatful for the next long rest, but rarely killed outright, let alone TPKd. You could make that happen pretty easily by just dialing it up - EL mostly delivered as advertised - but you could, with enough experience & artistry, make any ed as deadly or survivable as desired.
 

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